Gibbon: Beyond the Trees
By Marc Saltzman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Charming primate adventure includes powerful messages.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
It's an ecological adventure about survival and captivity that focuses on gibbons in search for a home that may be lost forever. Messages peppered throughout reinforce the theme, which includes environmental topics such as deforestation, poaching, climate change.
A family of gibbons swing through trees to find a new home. The game developers discuss ecological threats to primates at some points throughout. In Liberation mode, you must find and release captured animals around the world. Along with learning about gibbons, gamers are introduced to human threats to this species in Southeast Asia and elsewhere.
Positive Role Models
You play as a lost gibbon in search of a new home. The gender-neutral character is positive, as you can see the love they have for their family. This is a message about survival of a species. Once unlocked, another mode has you liberate caged animals around the world.
Game is about gibbons primarily; you control an adult by swinging through the trees, leaping across chasms, seeking freedom and security. Main character is purposely gender neutral. There aren't many other characters in this game, other than some other animals.
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Ease of Play
It's a little challenging to learn at first, but a tutorial walks the gamer through the touch screen controls, including how to jump, soar (and somersault) in the air, swing, run along branches, and more. Optional game controller support for iPhone and iPad versions, mandatory for the Apple TV and Mac versions.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Gibbon: Beyond the Trees is an action game exclusively for Apple Arcade and playable on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac -- and it's suitable for players of all ages. Younger kids will enjoy swinging through the trees and unlocking new areas, while older players will appreciate the ecological message of survival. There isn't any inappropriate content in this game.
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Gibbon: Beyond the Trees
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What’s It About?
GIBBON: BEYOND THE TREES is a hand-drawn arcade game about a gibbon in search of freedom and security for its small family -- and species, as a whole. After a short intro movie of a gibbon family in the jungles of Borneo, gamers will learn how to swing through the trees, jump across huge chasms, perform somersaults in the air, and run along branches as they make their way to new locations in the main story campaign. After this single-player adventure is completed, a Liberation mode is unlocked, which challenges players to navigate around various areas to free captive animals. The game features colorful hand-painted visuals, music, and gibbon sounds, all to help tell a story of survival amidst a backdrop of human threats to these primates, including deforestation, hunters, and climate-related crises.
Is It Any Good?
Between the engaging gameplay, attractive presentation, and important message, this is an extraordinary addition to the Apple Arcade family of games. Gibbon: Beyond the Trees isn't a perfect adventure, mind you, but it's pretty close to an instant classic. The fun is the freedom of swinging through the trees and exploring the different ways to reach your destination. That includes mastering the momentum of your movement, working with fellow gibbons (reinforcing cooperative themes), and unlocking new environments (and environmental challenges) that challenge your wits, timing, and patience. It really is a beautifully crafted game, so once you get over the learning curve of the touch-based controls -- and there most definitely is one -- you can focus less on maneuvering your gibbon and more on appreciating the aesthetics and level design.
That is one of the bigger issues with the game: that, truthfully, frustration with the controls may cause you to uninstall the game quickly after starting. The other issue with Gibbon: Beyond the Trees is its brevity. While it may not be that much of an issue for some, there's only a couple of hours of play here in the main story campaign and Liberation mode, which offers procedurally generated jungle scenes. Perhaps the developers can add more content over time. That said, there are unlockable achievements to earn, too. If you can get past a tricky first few minutes of learning the ropes with this game, you certainly won't be disappointed in Gibbon: Beyond the Trees. Give yourself a bit of time to fall for the game's charm -- and message.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the ecological threats caused by humans, like deforestation, poaching, and climate change. Does this game bring these issues to light -- yet in an entertaining fashion?
What's the link between learning about issues (in a game, no less) and doing something about improving them? How can people help bring awareness to these environmental issues, or help those affected, perhaps with donations?
- Platform: Apple Arcade
- Pricing structure: Paid (Part of Apple Arcade service ($4.99/month))
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: Broken Rules
- Release date: March 10, 2022
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Activism, Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
- Last updated: December 1, 2022
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